School’s out forever - Hilldene deputy head Graham Robson bids farewell to Havering after 36 years

Full marks: Year six students show their appreciation as Graham Robson prepares to retire after 24 y

Full marks: Year six students show their appreciation as Graham Robson prepares to retire after 24 years at Hilldene Primary - Credit: Archant

School’s finally out for deputy head Graham Robson – 36 years after he first arrived in Havering.

Full marks: Year six students show their appreciation as Graham Robson prepares to retire after 24 y

Full marks: Year six students show their appreciation as Graham Robson prepares to retire after 24 years at Hilldene Primary - Credit: Archant

A lot has changed since the newly qualified Graham, now 57, got his first job at Branfil Primary School in 1977, but his enthusiasm for the job hasn’t faltered.

Graham Robson with the 1995/6 football squad he coached to become London's top primary school team

Graham Robson with the 1995/6 football squad he coached to become London's top primary school team - Credit: Archant

“I love the children here,” Graham – who is now deputy head at Hilldene Primary School – told the Recorder. “That’s the reason I’ve stayed.

“The thing I like most is when you’re teaching and you see a face light up and you think: ‘Yes, they get it.’ It’s that ‘eureka’ moment.

“And when you see them get the SATs grades they need, the look on their faces is the best thing. You feel you’ve made a difference.”


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But Graham’s just as happy being outside the classroom as in – making his name in the 1980s as coach of the Havering under-11s football team, which included future 400-match Arsenal player Ray Parlour.

Later, after moving to Hilldene, the footballers he coached – one of whom, Gary Richards, went on to play professionally for Colchester and Luton – spent two years as London’s top primary school team.

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After leaving Branfil, Graham moved to Hacton Primary School in the 1980s, finally joining Hilldene Junior School in 1989.

And when the junior and infant schools merged in the mid-1990s he was appointed deputy head.

With 24 years at the same school under his belt, he’s started to see his own former pupils turning up at parents’ evening.

“I haven’t got to the stage where I’ve taught anyone’s grandparents yet,” he laughed, “but it’s quite nice to see some of them come back as parents.

“We’ve had some quite interesting characters over the years.

“Jeff Brazier, who used to be married to Jade Goody, was at our school when I first started teaching here.”

Graham will get a proper send-off at the school’s summer fayre on July 19 – after which the Hook End resident plans to spend his time playing golf and travelling.

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